News Story

Associated Press: Tea Parties are "A Lot of Noise" and "No Muscle"

The Tea Party movement won't have an impact on congressional elections in November, is "a lot of noise, no muscle" with popularity that "thins out" outside the rallies, according to an Associated Press analysis of the movement.

"I don't think they (media) understand what we are doing," said Wendy Day, founder of Common Sense in Government. "They don't get it. I bet the media and the political elite feel much like England did in 1776. That something was brewing and they didn't understand it so they discounted it and ignored it."

"We are having a David and Goliath battle," said Day, who said she was interviewed by the AP. "And they don't see us coming with three rocks and a slingshot."

The AP analysis made the rounds of the popular Yahoo and Google news sections and was picked up by dozens of news sites on Monday.

But many Michigan Tea Party activists discounted the story as another slight at the movement by a biased media.

"I'm not surprised by their effort to take the wind out of the tea party movement," said Glenn Clark, who serves as the GOP's chairman for the 9th Congressional District and is also a member of the Oakland County Tea Party.

Clark, like many Tea Party activists, believes the Tea Party movement will have considerable impact on the November elections.

"It's like a snowball going down the side of a hill that is likely to cause an avalanche," Clark said. "It's like the warning, don't throw snowball here. We've been throwing a lot of snowballs. This is going to be an avalanche of activism."

Tea Party leaders questioned many of the conclusions made in the AP analysis.

The analysis quotes an unnamed "senior Republican consultant" who said the Tea Party movement was "lot of noise, no muscle."

Joan Fabiano, founder of Grassroots in Michigan, said the story lacked credibility by using an unnamed source.

"There is a concerted effort (by the media) to throw up a wall between the Republican Party and the Tea Party movement," Fabiano said. "He says something that is very dismissive of the Tea Party movement. I'm suspicious they are trying to divide the conservative candidates who are going to run as Republicans and the Tea Party movement. They are trying to brand all Republicans as dismissive of the Tea Party movement."

Other Tea Party activists said the AP analysis painted all Republicans with the same brush.

Tea Party activists said the Tea Party movement will support Republicans who share their values.

"There are plenty of good (GOP) candidates running (the Tea Party will support)," Clark said. "People who have a long record of taxing and spending are going to be on the short end of the stick."

Tina Dupont of Tea Party of West Michigan said her organization talks with the Kent County GOP because they have shared values.

"We are fully planning on getting boots on the ground for the right candidates," Dupont said. "It's a bunch of people who were asleep but now are awake now."

Beyond rallies, the movement thins out, the AP analysis declares. Yet, Tea Party groups from all corners of the state are reporting an increase in membership.

Dupont said her membership has increased from about 660 in September to 1,353 as of Monday afternoon.

"The Tea Party movement has actually grown," said Fabiano.

The AP analysis is nearly 1,200 words, but doesn't mention Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat until the 39th paragraph. And then the AP story states, "... activists were not key drivers in his race."

Day wonders how any article on the Tea Party movement can ignore its national achievements.

"What happened in New York? What happened in Virginia? What happened in Massachusetts?" Day asked, referring to the Tea Party's part in Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman's surge in New York, GOP's Bob McDonnell victory in the Virginia gubernatorial race and Brown's win. "All the things they are saying in that article fly in the face of the facts."

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.